Lincoln’s Favorite White Cake

(From Ford’s Theatre, Washington, D.C.)

An almond-scented cake from the family of Mary Todd Lincoln. While light in texture, the cake has a heartier crumb than an angel-food recipe and can be baked in a bundt pan or other cake pan. This historic recipe is iced with a boiled sugar frosting, but any basic white or cream-cheese frosting can be substituted. It also stands nicely on its own without frosting. 

Cake batter:

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter

3 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking power

1 cup milk

1 ¼ cups almonds, finely chopped

6 egg whites

1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract

Cream sugar and butter. Sift flour and baking powder three times. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, alternately with milk. Add almonds. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into batter. Add extract. Pour into a greased and floured angel food cake pan. Bake at 350 for approximately 1 hour. Turn out cake on wire rack to cool.

Frosting:

2 egg whites

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla or ½ teaspoon almond extract

1 cup water

½ cup candied pineapple (optional)

½ cup crystallized cherries, cut in half (optional)

Beat egg whites until very stiff. Set aside. Combine sugar and water and bring to a boil. Boil until the syrup spins a thread about 5 inches long. Slowly add a few tablespoons of egg whites, 1 spoonful at a time, into the syrup. Then slowly beating well, adds remaining syrup into the eggs and beat until the icing forms peaks when dropped from a spoon. Add vanilla and/or almond extract. Fold in pineapple and cherries. Ice the tops and sides of cake. The fruit may be omitted.

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